We tapped into our carnivorous sides this month to sample some of the island’s most celebrated steakhouses. Who had the most tender tenderloin of them all? Read on to find out.
Until now, the only culinary association Wooloomooloo had for me was Harry’s Café de Wheels, the iconic roadside pie cart that since 1945 has been serving up legendary pies and peas to late-night Sydneysiders.
You’ll find nary a pie nor a pea on this Wooloomooloo’s upscale steakhouse menu, though if you start in the lovely bar you’ll find an appealing bar menu that includes three mini-burgers ($12), no doubt perfect to mop up the great cocktails with during Happy Hour, which runs from 4pm to 7pm.
In the restaurant proper, subtle lighting and décor strong on wood, leather and Aboriginal dot art give the sort of elegantly masculine vibe that’s right for a steakhouse; it has a lovely outlook, too, through floor-to-ceiling windows, as does the bar. Our outlook is further improved by a comprehensive wine list of 150 labels that includes an unusually wide selection by the glass: seven whites, seven reds, two champagnes and a rosé ($17 to $29).
Starters are outstanding: deliciously creamy yellow fin tuna and spanner crab tartare ($29) and jumbo prawn cocktail ($29), seriously large and meaty and served with a horseradishy tomato dip.
But we’re mainly here for the beef: an Australian Black Angus ribeye steak ($62) and a USDA 150-day wet-aged ribeye ($74). Though billed at 12 ounces (340g) each, neither cut is very thick – unlike Morton’s monsters, for example; but priced accordingly. They’re broiler-seared perfectly medium-rare at 650 to 700 degrees celsius, if that means anything to you, and served with excellent sides ($12 to $16) of sautéed potatoes, grilled asparagus and creamy spinach.
So which is the better steak? Surprisingly, the Aussie cut, bursting with meaty flavour, wins hands-down.
In most parts of the world it’s a good rule never to order fish in a steakhouse, but in Singapore it’s a different kettle of… er… fish: chefs here almost never wreck the delicate meat by overcooking it. Our tender, crispy-skinned fillet of barramundi ($52)with sweet-sour tomato coulis is in itself worth returning for. As for desserts, we’ve never had a better pavlova ($18) nor a more scrumptious bread and butter pudding ($16).
You may be wondering (as I was): Why the name Wooloomooloo? Seems the Hong Kong owners of this group liked the auspicious ring of its eight Os. (Bet you’re counting them right now.)
Lawry’s The Prime Rib
333A Orchard Road
#04-01/31 Meritus Mandarin Hotel, Mandarin Gallery
6836 3333 | lawrys.com.sg
Having literally just returned from the paddocks of the family cattle and sheep farm in Australia, it’s a pleasure to find some fine produce on the menu of Lawrys, a restaurant renowned for selecting only premium meat. Indeed, in their US outlets they claim to accept less than five percent of the meat on offer, which is solid reassurance for discerning meat-eaters.
The traditions harking back to Los Angeles in 1938 still hold; from the centrepiece roast dinner down to the quaint uniforms complete with starched white aprons and headpiece – a little comical, 74 years on.
But the people wearing this uniform provide excellent service, and personality too. Seated in comfortable padded seats beside four-metre floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking Orchard Road, we’re competently led through the menu choices. Prior to tackling the roast, we’re encouraged to sample the fresh seafood. The Atlantic lobster tail ($27) is juicy and flavoursome. And the six Pacific oysters from Canada ($33) are delicious with just a squeeze of lemon juice and grind of black pepper.
Both main courses include the spinning bowl salad – a combination of lettuce leaves, shredded beetroot, eggs, croutons and a traditional dressing – skilfully prepared before us. The 285g Lawry’s cut beef ($88), carved and served at the table is uniformly tender, juicy and full of flavour, while the succulent rack of lamb ($63) with a red wine reduction is carved into four medallions and accompanied by Brussels sprouts.
We’re groaning after all this food that’s been washed down with a Kronenberg, a glass of New Zealand Vidal Sauvignon Blanc ($17) and a couple of solid Australian reds: a Windowrie Shiraz ($17) and Possums Grenache ($19).
A couple of mouthfuls each of English strawberry trifle ($10) complete the meal, and the experience: a true step back in time to a very different dining era.
Ruth’s Chris Steak House
6 Raffles Boulevard, Level 4 Marina Mandarin Singapore, Marina Square
6336 9093 | ruthchris.com
Confused by the name? Here’s the short explanation: in 1965, Ruth Fertel purchased a little-known New Orleans restaurant, Chris Steak House, revamped it, tacked on her name and – more than 150 locations later – the rest, as they say, is history.
As the sole American on the EL team, I figured it only appropriate to welcome one of my old favourites (or it is favorites?) to town. The reunion started with a plate of blue crab cakes ($35), two heaping lumps of jumbo crab, and the barbecued shrimp ($35), whose spicy white wine butter sauce gave it a slight edge over the crab. Both were excellent.
My weakness for cheese is a personal flaw that I tend to celebrate. Yet, when confronted with a typical steakhouse salad – the kind where the blue cheese outnumbers the lettuce 5-to1 – I lose all self-control and ruin any chance of enjoying the main event. Fortunately, Ruth’s chop salad ($23) is a beautifully light mix of 15 ingredients, including spinach, eggs, hearts of palm and just a dash of the lovely blue.
The eight-ounce petit filet ($85) and the 12-ounce ribeye ($85), both USDA prime, are served on searing plates coated in sizzling steak butter. You can hear them coming from at least 20 paces. Each is cooked to a perfect medium rare, just as requested.
The cheesecake ($25), an entire five-inch pie, is the single best cheesecake I have ever tasted in Singapore. Lighter and creamier than its New York brethren, this dish alone is reason enough for a return visit.
9 Raffles Boulevard
#01-114 Millenia Walk
6837 3242 | outback-sea.com/sg
This Australian-themed American chain steakhouse is quietly located in a corner of Millenia Walk, convenient yet away from the Friday night shopping crowd. And who better to dine with than my 19-year-old brother with a gargantuan appetite for all things meaty?
First came complimentary bread: baked in-house, according to our friendly waiter. The typhoon bloom ($15.90), a delicious bowl of hand-cut fried onion strings served with mayonnaise horseradish dipping sauce and the shrimp Caesar salad ($20.90) were full-sized (read: huge), so as tempting as they were, finishing them wouldn’t have left room for the mains.
The 10oz ribeye steak ($39.90) was a juicy, succulent slab, chargrilled and with a moreish seasoning sauce and grilled vegetables on the side. Without a doubt, the star of the evening was the baby back ribs ($33.90, half portion $20.90), smoked and grilled, with a tangy barbecue sauce. The meat came off the bone easily, which made things so much more pleasant.
Rounding up our filling meal was the chocolate thunder from Down Under ($15.90), a warm pecan brownie topped with a rich vanilla ice cream, whipped cream and chocolate shavings – best reserved for those with a very sweet tooth.
2 Keppel Bay Vista
6776 0777 | theprivegroup.com.sg
A Signature Mojito ($10)and a view of Keppel Bay Marina proved a welcome respite after an eventful week. A renovation of the premises and the arrival of a Josper grill, a Spanish barbecuing marvel that imparts rich and smoky flavours, explains this restaurant’s recent name change to Privé Grill.
An amuse bouche of gazpacho (chilled spinach, cucumber, mint and truffle oil) was followed by rich salmon tataki ($16), balanced by a light-as-air avocado mousse and peppery arugula. My beloved chose the “man-sized” NZ organic beef tartare with egg yolk and duck fat fries ($30), washed down with a glass of Argentinian cabernet sauvignon ($15), that would later thwart attempts to devour a strawberry rhubarb trifle ($14).
Carnivorous hopes were dashed with news that the Creekstone Angus had sold out, so out came the 340g organic New Zealand Harmony ribeye ($58) with port and red wine sauce ($6) – a tasty and fattier meat due to the cut’s characteristic marbling, served rare as opposed to master’s preferred medium rare but devoured all the same.
My 225g organic New Zealand Harmony tenderloin ($58) with pricey foie gras and black truffle sauce ($22) was worth every cent and a sublime moment in this meat lover’s history. The fennel and rocket salad ($8) provided sharp contrast to our rich steaks while steamed-to-perfection asparagus with tomato sabayon mousse ($8) completed the meat and three veg picture.
1 Orchard Boulevard
#01-01/02 Camden Medical Centre
6735 0308 | fat-cow.com.sg
Order a steak at any other restaurant and you’ll get the usual choice of mushroom or black pepper sauce with a side of wedges, mashed potatoes or fries. At Fat Cow, don’t expect any of that. Instead, you can douse your steak in Asian sauces like sweet teriyaki or fresh and zingy ginger sauce.
On the chef’s recommendation, we tried the charcoal grilled US Wagyu ribeye steak ($65 per 100g). The beef has such an intense flavour that the chef only needs to sprinkle it with some salt and pepper before grilling it on a bed of hot burning binchotan (Japanese white charcoal). Once perfectly grilled to medium rare, the steak was served on a slate plate that kept it warm. The ribeye was flavourful thanks to its wonderful marbling and the charred surface had a distinctly smoky taste. We were enjoying our steak so much that we almost forgot about the sides – garlic rice and salad with sesame dressing.
Fat Cow serves bespoke meat; you can have it your own way, from the choice of the part and size of the meat to the method of cooking. For your satisfaction, order at least 250g of steak; you won’t regret forking out that extra cash.
You can have the best of both worlds at Fat Cow. If you like your steak and crave sashimi at the same time, order their tai carpaccio ($38). Even those who usually prefer their fish cooked would love the fresh, thinly sliced red snapper. The best part? A generous serving of truffles atop the fish.
A great place for anyone who likes their steak with a twist, or with sashimi on the side.